Vietnam 'Ghost' vets honored after years shrouded in secrecy

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For more than 30 years, members of the clandestine Naval air squadron VO-67 could not talk about their role in the Vietnam War.

Now, as they prepare to go to Washington on Wednesday to receive the presidential unit citation – the highest award for heroism given to a military unit – they find the recognition bittersweet....

In late 1967, the members of naval anti-submarine patrol units began receiving orders to report for a special operation.

The 300 officers and enlisted men were formed into squadron VO-67, equipped with specially modified P-2V5 Neptune patrol planes and sent to Thailand under top-secret orders. It was not lost on anyone involved that there were no submarines there.

In Thailand, they were told they could not tell anyone what they did, not even family. The unit was soon known as the "Ghost Squadron," since it didn't exist.

"We had no idea what we were getting into," said Herb Ganner, 65, of Hurst, who served as a bombardier and backup pilot. "We soon found we were part of a new type of warfare."

The squadron's mission was to fly over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a complex network of trails, roads and truck routes that fed supplies through Laos to North Vietnamese units in South Vietnam.

They flew at treetop level, low and slow, and dropped a variety of electronic sensors and listening devices along the trail. Specially equipped planes flying at higher altitudes picked up signals of North Vietnamese supply and troop movements and relayed them for bombing missions.

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